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O’o Farm Raises the Bar

Farm to table has become all the rage in the last few years, and for good reason.  Many people want more than just a meal, and they want to eat it with a clean conscience, knowing that is was made in a kind and sustainable manner.  High above the bustle of Maui’s beach scene is a charming farm tucked into the green countryside that embraces this belief.

O'o Farm

O’o Farm in Kula is a charming farm perched on the hillside, peeking out from the billowing fog that often frequents their land.  My friend and I were met by our guide, Ancil (who has the job title of tour guide, server, bus boy, barista and composter) at the entrance and joined by a very friendly couple from Oregon.  Most tours range from 8-20 people, but we were lucky to have a more intimate group.  The moment the farm tour started, it became very apparent how much this company truly respects the land they farm on.  These 8 1/2 acres sit 3,500 feet above sea level and they have found themselves growing a “culinary adventure”.  From olives to coffee beans to stone fruit, this mediterranean climate is able to produce items not usually found on a tropical island.  Funnily enough, they’re too cold to grow many of the tropical fruits, and the rainfall is only about 30 inches a year.  They’ve found some success with growing subtropical fruits, however, like cherimoya and loquats.  On the tour, you’ll get to pick some of these straight off the tree.  Taste testing doesn’t get fresher than that!

O'o Farm

Ancil pointed out the surrounding forest of wattle trees, known for being a huge pest to grow around but also being very beneficial because of its high nitrogen levels that it transfers to the soil.  These trees didn’t hold much significance until I found out that they nearly saved the upcountry lifestyle after a widespread Kula fire wiped out almost all of the vegetation in the early 1900’s.  Today, these trees are used for the wood fire stove and are chipped up and used in the compost.

O'o Farm

This farm was actually the brain child of Pacific’O Restaurant in Lahaina, who are dedicated to serving local and sustainable dishes.  They were running into an issue on acquiring what they needed and keeping their commitment to local produce, so they got creative and started their own farm to cut out the middle man.  We walked down lines of citrus trees, winding through rows of swiss chard, mustard greens and candy stripe beets.  Their herb garden would win in any contest and their edible flowers were as beautiful as they were tasty.  However, their pride and joy was a small red berry on a tree.

O'o Farm

Coffee is a passionate topic for many, from a morning necessity to slowly sipping it to ascertain notes of mocha and cherry.  This farm family started their coffee hobby by roasting their own beans in the tool shed.  What began as a small interest has now become ardent pursuit of the perfect cup o’ joe.  Their stunning roasting house, which is built with recycled wood, sees these lovingly grown beans from bean to cappuccino.  It’s rare to drink a cup of coffee on the land that the beans were grown, roasted and brewed!

O'o Farm

Ancil regaled us with a plethora of unique facts about goats being the first to discover coffee beans, the fool-proof method of lasagna gardening and O’o Farm’s future in olive pressing.  On cue with our grumbling  stomachs, he handed us over to the chef in the rustic outdoor kitchen.  Looking perky considering his 6 am arrival at the farm, Chef Daniel proudly showed off his basket of freshly picked fruits and vegetables that would be a part of our dining experience.  The colors, the fragrance of lemongrass and kaffir lime drifted our way.

O'o Farm

After Chef Daniel entertained us with the impending feast that he’d be preparing, Ancil reappeared and guided us to their roasting house to get up close and personal with their passionate pursuit.  Their passion is in good company, as coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil.  And now O’o Farm is jumping into the competitive coffee ring and entered the 2015 Cupping Competition, a prestigious statewide competition that crowns someone with the coveted Grand Champions of Hawaiian Coffee award.

O'o Farm

The lunch bell rang and we made our way over to the buffet, where skillet crispy tofu mingled with candy stripe beets, yellow beets and rainbow carrots.  A dish brimming with juicy brined chicken was next, paired with blood oranges, kaffir lime, rutabaga and hints of rosemary and cardamon.  The fresh catch of the day was Monchong, which was perfectly moist and flaky.  This delectable dish boasted flavors of caramelized Florence fennel and elephant garlic with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf.  We proudly piled on a mixed green salad and citrus vinaigrette from the bounty we had just picked from the garden.  Lastly, and possibly my favorite, was the wood fire focaccia bread, still warm from the stove.

O'o Farm

We relished in each bite, and the freshness of each dish was so apparent and appreciated!  As the fog slowly started rolling in, perfectly timed french press coffee pots were brought out for our sipping pleasure, and was paired with house made dark chocolate truffles.

O'o Farm

This culinary experience was more than just a fun time or a great meal.  It connected us to the entire process from the growing to the picking to the cooking to the eating.  For anyone that wants to take home once in a lifetime memories that include more than just the beach, this is a must do!

To read up on another commentary of this incredible farm, visit this O’o Farm Review.

Top 10 Made-on-Maui Valentine’s Gift Idea

valentine-cupcake-poem

Yes! The holiday rush is finally over.  No more racking your brain deciding what to get your loved ones for Christmas. No more late night online searching for the best deals. No more dragging yourself up-and-down the isles of the store searching for just the right gift.

Oh wait! Isn’t Valentine’s Day fast approaching?! Here we go again…more shopping. They’ve already got what they’d asked for at Christmas and you’ve done all the typical Valentine’s gifts in the years past. Now you want something other then store bought chocolate boxes or flower arrangements. Well, search no more. Here are 10 Maui-made gift ideas you may never have thought of:

1. Surprise! Have your (cup)cake and free delivery too.

Have you ever had someone send you a gift? Remember that excited feeling of surprise. Imagine your loved ones delight when you send them a box of cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. That’s right, Maui has cupcake delivery from Cupcake Ladies Catering Co. Get their Valentine’s Special of half a dozen red velvet cupcakes for $22.50 or two boxes for $43. Best of all…they are offering FREE delivery for this holiday. www.cupcakesmaui.com/valentines-special

 Cupcake Maui

2. Custom made and totally cute.

Does your Valentine love things that are tiny and totally cute? Order custom cakepops on Maui from Cakepops By Liz. Think of a favorite movie or something that represents your Valentine and make a request. Having a gift custom made can really make a person feel special. Prices start at $20 per dozen and vary depending on size and packaging selection. Contact the talented and creative Liz at www.cakepopsbyliz.com.

cakepops by liz

3. No more store bought boxes of chocolate!

 I know, I know. I said no more store bought boxes of chocolate, but this is different. These chocolates are made on Maui by Master Chocolatier Melanie Boudar. Her chocolates are award winning and feature flavors like the Lava Sea Salt Caramels. Boxes of chocolates range from $5 for a two-piece box to $175 for their largest box. Visit her boutique at the Wailea Gateway Center or online at www.sweetparadisechocolatier.com.

 4. Are you coco-nutty for your buddy?

 Maui Macaroons are the islands most amazing coconut cookies. Is your Valentine a coconut lover? Whether or not they love coconut, you must try this Maui-made cookie. I’ll bet you didn’t even know they have a shop in central Wailuku. They range from $7 for a quarter pound to $21 for a full pound. The cool thing about the Maui Macaroons & Artisan Market is that they are a treasure trove of other various Maui made products. Visit them to see what you may discover.

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5. Is that bacon on my cookie?!

If you got a bacon lover for a lover, they will squeal over the Bacon-nator Cookies from The Maui Cookie Lady. The best part is they are so huge you may only need one to satisfy any sweet tooth. Since they are $4 dollars each, you won’t be breaking the piggy bank either.

Various flavors are also available at the Maui Ocean Treasures gift shop. Open 9am-5pm daily, Aquarium admission not required to shop.

www.themauicookielady.com

6. Enough with the sweets already!

 Something that looks sweet but is not to eat, is Moko Pua Soap Factory’s Tropical Sachets. These fragrance beads last for a year or longer. They come in nine tropical scents and colors. Combine them any way you like. A combination of red, yellow, green for your hunny’s gym bag perhaps. At $7 a bag you could get one for your Valentine’s bedrooms, car, closets, desk, nightstand, and underwear drawer too. Visit their soap factory at the Maui Tropical Plantation or order online at www.mokupua.com.

7. Valentine’s for the kiddos

Wrapped in a sweet story of love for his daughter, this local Dad began Maui Dad Apparel – a small family business offering infant and toddler apparel. Each item features his own drawings inspired by his baby and life here. They are screen-printed by hand on Maui. Also, they are guaranteed sweatshop and child-labor free. They range from $26-$28. Visit www.mauidad.myshopify.com and various stores listed on their website.

mauidadapparel

8. For the Fashionista

Does your Valentine express themselves through fashion? Love, love, love Kealopiko’s clutch purses. Thoughtful, local, and inspiring. They are made of light canvas and upcycled scraps from their other projects. The material is hand dyed and printed on Molokai making each bag a unique and one of a kind creation. They won’t hurt your wallet either at around $30 each.  www.kealopiko.com

9. Bangle’s are her best friend

This list would not be complete without jewelry. Inspired by our ocean and her travels, Kammi’s designs are hand-crafted into beautiful jewelry right here on Maui. Please your Valentine’s inner girly-girl with the Honi Honi Bangle. It is a delicate piece with two hearts and a cone shell in sterling sliver for $80 or in 14k goldfill for $90. www.kamerajewelry.com

10. Our dogs deserve some love too don’t they?

Maui Dog Treats creates healthy treats for our canine ‘ohana. They’re sold at various places throughout the island. Love that they offer free shipping so we can send some to our friends and family in the mainland too. If your Valentine loves their pup (maybe more than you) they will howl in excitement for the Pup Treat Lei. It’s such a unique gift and only $9 for the small and $14 for the large. www.dogtreatsmaui.com

 

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Share aloha, live aloha! A hui hou!

 

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